Sonata per a violí i piano núm. 32, KV 454 en si bemoll major W. A. MOZART (1756 - 1791)
Sonata per a violí i piano núm. 2, op. 94 en re major SERGEI PROKÓFIEV (1891 – 1953)
Sonata per a violí i piano en la major CESAR FRANCK (1822 – 1890)
Ignacio Botella Ausina
Historian and musicologist
When on April 29, 1784 Mozart sat in front of the keys in a room in Vienna to play for the first time the Sonata K 454 that the Italian virtuoso violinist Regina Strinasacchi had commissioned to him, he must have had a blank music sheet in front of him, since he had only written the violin part. Mozart had the keyboard part in his head, so the sonata was actually written after it was released. However, this is not, by far, the greatest feat related to this composition. In those months in Vienna, Mozart wrote the Concerts for piano K 449 to 453 and the Quintet for winds and piano K 452, thus establishing, among others, the concert foundations of the modern sonata for violin.
The fact that most of the composers of the second half of the 18th century still approached the violin-pianoforte duo under the title Sonatas for pianoforte with violin accompaniment, highlights the great difficulty in achieving the synthesis and balance between the two instruments. In them the violin was relegated to the secondary role doubling the right hand of the pianist or, in any case, echoing it. Only Mozart, when he had reached maturity, was able to successfully solve the difficultly of marrying these two stringed instruments with his Sonatas K 454, 481 and 526, establishing with them the foundations of the violin and piano sonatas that Beethoven, Brahms, Franck, Fauré, Debussy, Prokofiev and Bartók, among others would later write. In this concert we will attend the staging of this historical process, listening to a performance with Lusine Khachatryan at the piano and Sergey Khachatryan at the violin, for the Sonata for violin and piano in B flat major K 454 by W. A. Mozart, followed by the Sonata for violin and piano no. 2 in D major op. 94 by S. Prokofiev and, in the second part of the program, the Sonata for violin and piano in A major by C. Franck.
The Sonata “Strinasacchi” begins with a slow prelude of great proportions, a Largo where Mozart contrasts the dominant musical elements in a Beethovenian way with other sweeter ones. The perfect balance between the two instruments mentioned above is perceived in the second movement, a very melodic Allegro in sonata form that gives rise to the core of the work, the Andante in E flat which, built on three themes, leads us to the climax of expression during the central development. The Sonata ends with the final Rondo, a delicate and festive Allegretto.
Before the Russian Revolution of 1917, Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) had already composed a large number of works in a dissonant style of motoric rhythm and extraordinary energy, such as the Scythian Suite of 1914, which so well represents this initial stage alongside his Piano Sonatas, and the Fugitive Visions of the same year of the Revolution. A year later he left Russia to settle, first in America and then in Paris, where his style became complicated, as shown in the opera The Love of the Three Oranges of 1919 or in his Second Symphony of 1925.
When Prokofiev returned to his homeland in 1934, he had a more sober style that had to be further simplified under the yoke of the Stalinist censors. Thus, four years later he composed the music for the film Alexander Nevsky, directed by Sergey Eisenstein, converted by the regime into a patriotic cantata. Eight years later, he came together in Alma-Ata with the same film director to shoot Ivan the Terrible, Prokofiev composed a Sonata for flute and piano that he finished in Moscow the following year, in 1943. The piece, which premiered in December that same year at the Conservatory, was played on piano by Sviatoslav Richter and the flute by Charkovsky. Among the audience was the Ukrainian violinist David Oistrakh, who asked the composer for a violin transcript, in which form the violinist himself perfored in June 1944 with the pianist Lev Oborin in the same Conservatory.
The seductive classicism of the piece is articulated in four movements: Moderato that in the version for flute is Andantino, where Prokofiev proposes an Haendelian environment of Sonata da Chiesa; Scherzo, called Allegro in the original version, where the author combines binary and ternary musical cells in the form of ¾; Andante in F major, an expressive and delicate romance; and concludes with an Allegro con brio, of virtuosic climate with a central lyrical and meditative episode.
Influenced by the defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, a group of composers was founded in 1871 called the Société Nationale de Musique. Under the motto ArsGallica (French art), the Société contributed decisively to the rebirth of French instrumental music, in which the country had given ground to German music since the beginning of the century. There were three composers who opened the door of creative freedom to the generation of French musicians at the end of the century and to all the French music of the twentieth century: Edouard Lalo, 1823-1892, of Spanish origin; Camille Saint-Saëns, 1835-1921, and César Franck, Belgian born in Liège in 1822 and who died in 1890. C. Franck, a professional organist whose work is the highest expression of the romantic European organ and who offered an alternative to the Conservatory with its musical school called Schola Cantorum, based on respect for the classical forms and the old rules of the counterpoint. We will listen to his wonderful Sonata for violin and piano in A major, a masterpiece, a keystone in the evolution of the genre and a defining work of art for French chamber music of the nineteenth century.
The Sonata, composed in the summer of 1886 and written under the influence of the romance between the composer and Augusta Holmes, is dedicated to the violinist Eugène Ysaye who premiered it with the pianist Mme. Bordes-Pène at the Artistic Circle in Brussels in December of that same year. Franck continues with this sonata in the footsteps of Beethoven’s last sonatas and the resource of Berlioz’s “fixed idea” that Wagner would later transform into Leitmotiv, exposing themes in diverse forms that in cyclic succession regulate and give unity to the entire piece. In this way, he combines the four movements of his Sonata for violin and piano in A major, which are: Allegro moderato/Allegro/ Recitativo fantasia. Ben moderato/Allegretto poco mosso.
Born in Yerevan, Armenia, Sergey Khachatryan won First Prize at the VIII International Jean Sibelius Competition in Helsinki in 2000, becoming the youngest ever winner in the history of the competition. In 2005 he claimed First Prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.
In recent seasons, Sergey has performed with the Bamberger Symphoniker (Herbert Blomstedt and Jonathan Nott), Münchner Philharmoniker (James Gaffigan), Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra (Valcuha), Mariinsky Orchestra (Valery Gergiev) and Orchestre de Paris (Andris Nelsons and Gianandrea Noseda). He has also collaborated with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra and NHK and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras.
Sergey’s recent appearances in the US include the Seattle Symphony (Ludovic Morlot), Los Angeles Philharmonic (Morlot) and National Symphony Orchestra Washington (Vasily Petrenko). He has also visited the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony as well as the Ravinia, Blossom and Mostly Mozart Festivals.
Highlights of this season include Sergey’s residency at the BOZAR, Brussels which includes a pair of recitals and a concert with the Orchestre National de Belgique and Hugo Wolff. He also performed with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra with Stanislav Kochanovsky, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana and Gulbenkian Orchestra with Lorenzo Viotti, Bamberger Symphoniker with Ludovic Morlot and Rotterdam Philharmonic with Valery Gergiev, as well as at the Teatro alla Scala Milan under Myung-Whun Chung. Sergey also embarks on a tour of the US and Europe with Alisa Weilierstein and Inon Barnaton with a programme titled ‘Transfigured Nights’ featuring the music of Beethoven, Schoenberg and Shostakovich.
Last season saw Sergey’s debut at the Aspen Festival in Colorado, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg with the Hamburger Symphoniker and at the Salzburger Festspiele performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. He returned to the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rotterdam and Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestras, St Petersburg Philharmonic, and the Cleveland Orchestra. Other recent projects include a tour of Japan with the Nippon Foundation and in 2014/15, Sergey performed Beethoven’s Violin Concerto at the Lucerne Festival with the Vienna Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel as the latest recipient of the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award.
Sergey and Lusine are regular duo partners. Together, they have given recitals at Konzerthaus Dortmund, Wigmore Hall (London), Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and Cité de la Musique (Paris), Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Palais des Beaux Arts (Brussels), Victoria Hall (Geneva), Auditorio Nacional (Madrid), Philharmonie Luxembourg, Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall (New York) and Herbst Theater (San Francisco).
Sergey and Lusine’s most recent recording of Armenian music, My Armenia for Naïve Classique, dedicated to the 100th commemoration of the Armenian genocide, has been awarded the Echo Klassik for Chamber Music Recording (20th/21st Century)/Mixed Ensemble. Together they have also recorded Brahms Three Sonatas for Violin and Piano. Sergey’s discography on the label also includes the Sibelius and Khachaturian concerti with Sinfonia Varsovia and Emmanuel Krivine, both Shostakovich concerti with the Orchestre National de France and Kurt Masur, a recording of the Shostakovich and Franck sonatas for violin and piano and the complete sonatas and partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.
Sergey plays the 1740 Ysaÿe Guarneri violin, kindly loaned from the Nippon Music Foundation.
In today's classical music world, Lusine Khachatryan is considered a “Poet of the Keyboard”.
Lusine Khachatryan's successful international concert performances have inspired audiences in such venues as: Alte Oper, Frankfurt/Main; Herkulessaal, Munich; Liederhalle, Stuttgart; Tonhalle, Zürich; Concertgebouw, Amsterdam; the Louvre and Théâtre des Champes-Élysees, Paris; Wigmore Hall, London; Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels; Palau de la Musica, Barcelona; Oji Hall, Tokyo; Carnegie Hall, New York and others.
Lusine Khachatryan has received numerous awards and prizes throughout her artistic development. Among them are: the Musical Advancement Award of the Baden Cultural Foundation; the Scholarship of the “Freundeskreis” of the Music Academy of Karlsruhe; and a special grant from the German foundation, Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben.
She won prizes in the International Piano Competition “Città di Ostra”, “Città di Marsala”, in Italy (2003), and in the 2nd European Piano Competition in Normandy, Ouistreham and Le Havre, France (2009).
Besides the Solo-recitals, she is an equally compelling performer with Chamber and Symphony orchestras, and also as a duo-partner with her brother, violinist Sergey Khachatryan. Together they recorded their debut CD on EMI Classics in 2002; with the French label Naïve the Sonatas for Violin and Piano by C. Franck and D. Schostakovitch (2007), the complete Sonatas for Piano and Violin by J.Brahms (2013) and their new CD release “My Armenia” with works by Armenian composers (2015).
In 2012 Lusine Khachatryan created a new art form: “The Piano-Theatre”, in which dramatic art and classical piano music are merged into one flowing piece. Through the theatrical world, music reaches a unique dimension and intensity. So far Lusine has written and produced the following Piano Theatre productions: "Maria Stuart" after F.Schiller (2012), "Chopin – The piano is my second self" (2013),"Clara Wieck plays Schumann" (2013) and „ԿԱՐՈՏ“ / “Nostalgia“ about the Armenian culture (2015).
“…She is a superb pianist, with a big sound and fiery technique…”
New York Times 02.05.2007